Admittedly, I've never been a fan of books that involve drug lords, cartels, and exotic places. On the flip side, I can easily take up a seat, turn the lights down low and flip on an old "Miami Vice" episode (assuming it's still on somewhere in that thousand-channel wasteland we call TV). So when I began reading Russell Blake's "Night of the Assassin," I didn't know what to expect. All I can say is, I'm glad that I did.
This tantalizing thriller is a prequel to "King of Swords" (which I have yet to read, and most definitely will), and is an amazingly taut and telling origin story of "El Rey," the King of Swords. Blake goes to great lengths to immerse us in the rise of a trained assassin, giving us a unique look into his training and ascension as the world's most feared killer-for-hire.
"Night of the Assassin" is brutal and beautiful. Blake offers riveting and revealing details of the black world of the drug lords in the Colombian and Mexican cartels, showing us in-your-face violence, all the while writing with an uncommon flair that is exceptionally strong and fluid. I often found myself disgusted with the cruelty and the barbarism, but at the same time found myself utterly in awe of the author's style. It's a rare instance where one can be appalled by the material but so drawn by the writing one has no choice but to turn the page.
For those stirred by the grisly details of a frighteningly real underworld, "Night of the Assassin" delivers the straight goods. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. The book could be a textbook on the inner workings of the drug world, but a textbook that wildly entertains. I couldn't put it down. And for a guy who's never been a fan of this genre, well, that pretty much says it all. Highly, highly recommended.